PositivePeople June 19, 2020 No Comments

Making Flexibility Work for Your Business

Are some of your team reluctant to return to the office full time or even at all? You aren’t alone.

We have been fielding a number of queries from clients who are considering working from home arrangements post-lockdown and trying to work out the best arrangement for their business.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The reality is that every organisation is different, with varying demands and cultural norms. There will be pros and cons unique to your workplace and structure which you will need to weigh up.

So, what should you consider and is there anything you should avoid? Here are a few steers while navigating this time. 

  1. Firstly, listen to your team and openly engage in the discussion. See this exploration phase as an opportunity to create positive engagement with your team and gain work efficiencies. Even if the final outcome isn’t exactly what people asked for initially, your team will appreciate being treated in a respectful, positive manner.
  2. Consider the future but keep it simple. Whilst you may only have a couple of people asking to work from home now, there are likely to be others who follow. Plan ahead for such requests by clearly identifying the specific roles that might fall into the ‘potential work from home’ category. That way you can treat people fairly and be consistent in managing requests and reviewing success.
  3. Be upfront. Communicate about what you are considering so everyone is in the loop. However, even if a role could be undertaken from home in theory, not everyone will be suited to such an arrangement. It is important to be upfront about that from the beginning and prepared to have those frank, sometimes confronting conversations.
  4. Be clear about your expectations. This might include minimum number of days or specific days you expect people to be in the office e.g. for team/client meetings to keep the connectivity and strong working relationships going, expected methods and frequency of communication in between office days, built-in regular reviews of the arrangement and performance levels.
  5. Don’t be afraid to try things out. Even if you already have a flexible working policy in place, you can still just trial an alternative temporary approach and formally review the policy later on. In the meantime, document any temporary individual arrangements so there is no confusion about what you have agreed.
  6. You will need to consider the practicalities of any home working arrangements to ensure you are meeting your health and safety obligations – here’s a good starting point:  https://positivepeople.co.nz/covid19-guidance-for-employers/covid-19-safe-work-from-home-guidelines/
  7. Also bear in mind that you are required to consider all requests fairly and respond in a timely manner to such requests

It can take a while to get into a rhythm when working from home, so expect a settling in period while you team get used to the new routine. Honest and open communication always helps to bed things in, and after while you will find the approach that works best for you and your team.

If you need help navigating flexible working arrangements, get in touch with us. Positive People have over 25 years experience partnering with small and medium sized businesses. Call us 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz 

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